Picture: 123RF/FRANNY ANNE
Picture: 123RF/FRANNY ANNE

The National Skills Fund (NSF) faced tough questions from MPs on Tuesday morning, with law makers unimpressed by its failure to meet a third of its performance targets.

They were also irked by the fact that the NSF had received a qualified audit from the auditor-general for its 2018/2019 annual report.

The NSF provides money to support projects that have been identified as priorities in the National Skills Development Strategy. It helps finance infrastructure, and provides scholarships and bursaries to students at higher education institutions.

The chair of parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation Mohlopi Mapulane said he was concerned about the NSF’s regression from an unqualified audit with findings in 2017/2018 to a qualified audit in 2018/2019, considering the resources it managed.

Its total revenue for 2018/2019 was R4bn, but it reported a net surplus of R1.5bn for the year. The NSF told MPs that the large surplus was due to underspending on infrastructure projects at Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges.

The slow spending in 2018/2019 comes hard on the heels of the NSF having to axe artisan projects the year before, after it was forced to help the government finance its no-fee increase for students at tertiary education institutions for 2016 and 2017 from its accumulated surpluses.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za